Friday, April 02, 2004

Simple is good, but ...
J.A. Montalbano has some good observations on Testy Copy Editors. A sample:
I uppercased K.D. Lang's name in a story the other day. It felt good to do so. It looked good.
We got no angry calls from readers or Ms. Lang's people.
I began to have yellow cartoon visions of bangerless Yahoos. ...
We can make things simple and generic without losing meaning or distinction.

Well, yes ... and no. We often make things much more complicated than needed. And let's just call it the "athletics" director and, as Montalbano suggests, forget this hypercorrectness of determining whether a school uses "athletics" or "athletic." (Note to AP: those folks are directors of "athletics," not "athletic." An "athletic director" is one who is a pretty good athlete.)

I might go along with lowercasing all the "the"s in newspaper names, though what do you do about "The State," a newspaper here in South Carolina? It's those exceptions that prove thorny. And I'm a disciple of AP and Wall Street Journal style when it comes to uppercasing only the first letter of corporate names, despite companies like SCANA and GTECH, that want us to SHOUT their names from our pages. I like the idea of K.D. Lang and Matchbox Twenty.

But the bottom line is that these are names, and I'm afraid Montalbano's note might make a little too light the importance of those names to the people and companies who have them. I dislike the commercialization of names so that now everyone's name, if he or she chooses, effectively becomes a product placement. So simplify away -- but be sure you have thought it out thoroughly and can defend your position. These are very personal decisions. After all, what if it were your name?


At 8/22/09, 11:09 AM, Blogger dan said...

what about e.e. cummings? would Montabano CAP that name too? He was wrong to CAP MS lang's name.

At 8/22/09, 4:22 PM, Blogger Doug Fisher said...

Actually, the scholarship seems to indicate Cummings preferred the capital form. See, for example, this article from the Cummings' Society journal (and for those of you who are Wikipedia fans, you'll find similar info there).

As for Ms. Lang, we can go round and round all day about her and others. Simple fact - if it's X's publication, than X can set whatever style he or she deems best. You are free to not read it. The endless arguments, however, are rather tiresome after a while.

At 8/22/09, 11:23 PM, Blogger dan said...

okay, then what about BlackBerry? should we CAP the second B or not? put THAT in yur CAP and smoke it. SMILE

At 8/22/09, 11:25 PM, Blogger dan said...

Doug while I have you here, please take a look at my idea for calling reading on screens by a new word, other than "reading" -- many agree with me, the need for a new word, whatever that new word might be. What's your take on this? email me at danbloom at gmail dot com and let me know. you can see full blog posts at zippy1300 or here

this is really about the future of newspapers, not about a new word. but take a look. your opinion will be mucho appreciated. i am doing deep research on this now and am in the discovery phase, so all POVs are welcome, pro and con

At 8/22/09, 11:30 PM, Blogger dan said...


If you could answer these questions, short answers or long, up to you.
i will be delighted. this is all a discovery period on my part. i have
no agenda. I am not married to any one word. I am just playing a
hunch, and backed by research of anne Mangen, etc.

tufts 1971

questions for YOU: !

for dan bloom's blog on ''reading'' in the Internet age,

Q and A style

1. Since reading on paper is very different from reading on screens,
do you think that at some point we might need a new word in English
for "reading on screens", yes or no?

2. If YES, can you suggest any possible words for this new word: maybe
scanning? screen-reading? screening? any other words you can think of
that might work well here, words or terms?

3. A futurist inthe USA , a very well known person, tells me:
"Screening" is not a new term, but this might just be the time that it
catches on, given the imminent arrival of Apple's iPad, and other
devices. The last time I heard it -- screening -- in this way -- was
back in the late 1990s when the RocketBook and Softbook made their
debut, but the term didn't do any better than the products did."

do you agree with him that THIS might be the time SCREENING catches
on, based on your 2008 academic paper? Yes or no or comments?

4. This fururist told me "This time around, screening is a clever and
useful term capturing the fact
that the experience reading on a screen is fundamentally different
from reading on paper. Not a priori worse or better; just different."
Do you agree with him here, yes or no or comments?

5. This futurist also told me ..."So definitley SCREENING is the right
word for the moment in terms of drawing
people's attention to the vast literary shift about to wash over
us....Do you agree that we are now witnessing a vast literary shift
about to wash over us? YES NO MAYBE? COMMENTS?

6. Is there any research yet that speaks about the way that different
parts of the brain light up when people read on paper compared to when
they read on a screen? Has anyone studied it this way yet? Can it be
studied this way? Do you think it is possible that different parts of
the brain light up when we read on paper vs reading on screens? Might
PHD people do research on this in the future.? how could one conduct
such research? with MRI machines? brain scans?

7. Does reading on screens hamper or hinder our critical analysis
skills of what we are reading?

8. If in the future most reading is done on screens, from computers to
iPhones to Kindles to even textbooks on screens, could this hurt the
critical thinking skills of young people to think, analyze and asess

9. Do you think people will be reading on paper surfaces anymore in
the year 2050? in the year 2099?

10. Are you willing or ready to say goodbye to MR PAPER, and greet
the SCREEN AGE with a complete open-minded welcome?

At 8/23/09, 12:12 AM, Blogger Doug Fisher said...

Nope. No need to cap that second B.

There have been a number of attempts to coin a new word - several of them, really - for what's going on.

For the presentation itself, one recent textbook proposed "printcasting," a word I rather like, though it still implies that this is simply a fusion of broadcasting and print when it is much more than that, especially when you take interactivity into account.

Another term that has come up is "viewser," which I initially found a bit awkward but have come to like. Again, the idea that the viewer is now also an interactive user. So maybe "viewsing"?

I have no objection to "screening," but as with some others on your site, I think some of the previous definitions don't make it ideal, either.

At 8/23/09, 12:26 AM, Blogger dan said...

viewsing....I like that, too. I like "screening" myself, first, just to get the national discussion going, or rather to recharge, it began a long time ago, you are right, and even though screening has earlier multiple meanings, "reading" has multiple meanings to -- read a face, read tea leaves, read a chess player's next move -- to the charge that people are levelling at screening for its earlier multiple meanings, while true, is more of a defensive reaction that a good reaction. All words can take on new meanings and since we are reading OFF a screen when we read online or on a offline Kindle or iPhone screen, my logical/illogical wordsmith thinking makes me think SCREENING would be a good word. But i see it's problems, too. I LIKE viewser. May I add this to my blog and credit your name as the coiner? It's great. My feeling is that 25 words or so will get nominated by 25 different people, and then one day, 25 years down the road, not now, one of those words will stick. It most likely won't be screening. Then again, one never knows. i am not married to screening, i am open to all good words or terms for this. Doug, btw,did you know that already many Kindle owners (they are not for sale here in Taiwan) in the USA already are using "to kindle" as a verb for reading on their Kindles, and if you google the word "kindling and kindle" you will see many bloggers talking about kindling on their Kindles. I like it, but it only works for the trademarkted Kindle. then again, xeroxing caught on, and googling has caught on, so KINDLING might catch on for all screen-reading. who knows. Btw, Doug, Dr Marvin Minsky at the MIT Media Lab, he is the AI guru, he told me in recent email he likes screening but prefers "screen-reading" as the term to use. AND Kevin Kelly of Wired mag wrote me last month and said "I'd be happy to see screening used as a verb for reading on screens." AND Paul Saffo, the forecaster futurist in SF, he told me yes, "screening" is a good word for what is happening now and makes perfect sense. But not everyone is on board yet, and I see 24 more years of uphill campaigning to get any word adopted. Doug, most important, ask me WHY i am doing this? Me, no PHD, no careeer, no job, no interest in 15 minutes of fame, no attention whore, no publicict hound, just a dreamer in a cave in taiwan who does not even own a computer or an iPod or an iPhone or even a car, just a red bicycle to get around town and a beat-up ten year old cellphone, 60 years young, ask me WHY i am doing this, so singlemindedly and 24/7? Not one person has asked me WHY yet?

At 8/23/09, 12:28 AM, Blogger dan said...

Okay, if you don't want to CAP the second B in Blackberry (sic) then what about EARTH, our planet Earth? Should be it capped or lowercased? Of course, "he's the salt of the earth" should be l/c but what about a story about climate change and how it is impacting life on Earth? CAP or LC?

At 8/23/09, 12:38 AM, Blogger dan said...

At 8/23/09, 12:48 AM, Blogger Doug Fisher said...

AP style would cap Earth.

As for viewser, feel free to mention it, but don't say I coined it. It traces at least to 1995.

"Screening" is fine, too, if it develops a new meaning that overtakes the others. I'm just saying that for now, I think it's a muddled situation and a bit jargonish.

And "kindling" does not surprise me as a verb. After all, "fax" is fully integrated into the language, for instance. So is "texting." And, with apologies to the birds, "tweeting" has gained hold, though people seem just as inclined to say "twittering," which has a different and not necessarily complimentary connotation in trad usage (which might be why they are using it?).

Kindle has first-mover advantage on the language. But maybe as things like e-paper advance and become more common, it will also become common to say "wait a second, let me get my screen." In that case, "screening" might well work its way into the language.

It has always been thus. Consider common phrases such as "out of sorts" that came in from printing. Had we called those slivers of lead "thins" instead of "sorts," would we instead be saying now "he's out of thins" to designate someone who is ill-tempered?

I have no horse in this linguistic race and am content to watch from the sidelines.

At 8/23/09, 12:51 AM, Blogger dan said...

Wow, really? AP caps Earth, good call. But the NYTimes resolutely refuses to do so. Good look!

At 8/23/09, 1:03 AM, Blogger Doug Fisher said...

Yes, it would be capped under AP because, in your example, it was referring to the planet. NYT does the same thing..

But as you noted, "earth" when referring to soil/dirt (physically or metaphorically) or to someone's mental state (down-to-earth) is l/c.

At 8/23/09, 1:05 AM, Blogger dan said...


Me, too, no horse in this race. Just watching from the sidelines too, in far away Taiwan, go figure.

I agree, screening has possibilities BUT it has a long uphill climb to convince doubters who correctly cite the earlier meanings.

I agree with you 101 percent: "it's a muddled situation and a bit jargonish."

My guess is maybe an entirely NEW word, completely organic and new, coined by some teenager in 2015 or so, some word like that will come to mean "reading on a screen".

One NYTimes reporter, Richard Pena-Cortez suggested the world "diging" for digital reading. Pronounced "dijing" he said. Not "digging". Smile.

But most of the tech reporters at the NYTImes that i have been in touch with about this have told me "we will never write about your cockamamie idea Bloom, so stop spamming us....." -- really. I am on the sh*tlist the Times tech beat desk. I have no idea. I think all they care about is what the latest gadget they can get for free and write about, not what all this MEANS for the future. SIGH.

At 8/23/09, 1:20 AM, Blogger dan said...


You have said something prophetic here, maybe:

".....maybe as things like e-paper advance and become more common, it will also become common to say "wait a second, let me get my screen."

In that case, "screening" might well work its way into the language."

Just might. Depends on lots of factors. Whatever, I just feel strongly a new word will be USEFUL. Okay, you didn't ask me WHY I am doing this campaign? I will tell you:

I am not interested in coining a new word. Screening is not my word anyways, i did not coin it, i am not attached it in any way. Screening existed long before I got to where I am today. WHAT I AM INTERESTED in, Doug, and why I am doing this, is:

1. I have some time on my hands (smile)

2. I really feel, from personal sense of things, that reading on paper is so vastly different both mentally and emotionally, in terms of how we take in the info we read on paper or screes, how we digest it, process it and then critically analyze it and store it in our brains, so different, I am sure, this is my hunch, that PHD scientists need to study this phenomenon with brain scan MRI machines etc, and scholars need to write books and opeds about by having two words, one for "reading" on paper and another for "reading" on screens (whatever that new word will be, and it's not for me to decide, I am just hoping to spark a national discussion as we are doing here, multiplied by hundreds of blogs -- so far just 15 are following this -- by having two distinct words for two distinct "reading" phenoms, then we can better study the issues involved and better get a handle on them. that's all. Simple idea, simple campaign. No Phd, no careeer promotion. i don't even want my name in the papers. This is NOT about me. It's about us! But the New York Times and the Wash Post refuse to talk to me about this idea for a story. When i send them my oped pieces on this, all come back rejected. Sigh. Par for the course. People are resisant to new ideas. I know.

At 8/23/09, 1:21 AM, Blogger dan said...

At 8/23/09, 1:44 AM, Blogger dan said...

New York Times lowercases EARTH here:

"For the last two weeks the slot was filled by “Meteor,” a traditional disaster story with lots of little people coming together to save the world from an implacable interstellar menace. On Sunday, in “The Storm,” the genre switches to international conspiracy thriller. There’s still a hulking, stony predator threatening earth, but instead of an asteroid it’s Treat Williams."

The Times is not consistent. When I wrote to the Times news desk and copy desk, I was told earth is lowercased at the Times, as a rule.

At 9/9/09, 12:32 AM, Blogger dan said...

Hi Doug

I believe that thanks to you, I have been banned for life from the testycopyeditors site, since i mentioned how narrow minded Montabano was re his role as mod there and you probably told P BlaNCHARD OR mONTABANO, RIGHT? THANKS, dOUG. Why not tell me directly instead of doing all this behind my back adn now Philip Blanchard has banned me forever from his blog and he won't answer me emails or tell me why and i believe it is because of you. Why did you act in such an underhanded and dishonest way to me, Doug. and you are a PHD professor? Shame on you, you have no ethics., sir


At 9/9/09, 2:21 AM, Blogger Doug Fisher said...

As noted on another post where you also left a comment, I have no clue what you are talking about - and apparently neither do you.

I haven't had a thing to do with whatever happened to you at TCE. Perhaps you should consider contacting those you wish to attack to check the facts before attacking them publicly.


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